ALBANY, NY The New York State Assembly passed the Marriage Equality legislation 89 - 52 on Tuesday, May 12. Many legislators from both sides of the political divide rose and explained that they had changed their position on the bill and now were voting for the bill because they had realized that their previous opposition was not defensible.
Janet Duprey a Member of the Assembly whose district is in the farthest north east corner of New York State spoke about her motivation to change her vote from 2007.
"When I ran in 2006, I said marriage is between a man and a woman. I was deeply moved during the debate in 2007, I voted against the bill but said I'd keep an open mind. I have received many phone calls and email and met many of my constituents. The ones who have moved me the most are the parents of homosexual parents. I have met many gays and lesbians -- they are only asking for equal protection under the law. This is not a religious issue. It is a civil rights issue. I proudly vote in favor today."
Duprey was one of several legislators that changed their vote from no to yes. None of the legislators are from Western New York.
The Western New York Assembly delegation held to their 2007 voting positions with one exception.
Democratic Members of the Assembly, Robin Schimminger (D, Tonawanda), Francine Del Monte (D, Niagara Falls) and Dennis Gabryszak (D, Cheektowaga) all again voted against same-sex marriage.
The Republican Western New York Assembly Members predictably again voted against the gay civil rights bill. James Hayes, (R. Amherst), Jack Quinn, (R. Hamburg), Daniel Burling, (R. Warsaw), Stephen Hawley, (R. Albion)
Joseph Giglio,(R Gowanda). These anti gay civil rights votes were joined by Assembly newcomer Jane Corwin (R Clarence), who also voted in the negative.
Members of the Assembly Sam Hoyt, D Buffalo, William Parment, D Ashville and Mark Schroeder, D Buffalo all voted in favor of the civil rights legislation. Hoyt was a co-sponsor of the bill and Mark Schroeder spoke in support of the bill during the debate on the bill.
In explaining his vote during the roll call, Hoyt offered recognition and appreciation to those gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in Buffalo that have long fought the battle for glbt civil rights.
From the floor of the Assembly, Hoyt recognized the late Bill Eaton, Babs Conant and Camile Cox, Madeline Davis and Wendy Smiley, Kitty Lambert, Outcome publisher Tim Moran, Bruce Kogan, Marvin Henchberger, Jim Rolls, the late Dr. James Haynes and Don Licht, Bill Gardner, Javier Bustillos and Tony Chase, Mike Campbell and Doug Ping, Joe Marcella and Michael Slyder, the late Jim Smith, Sue Clements and Kay Patterson, John Morgan, Danny Winter, Camille Hopkins, Cecile Biltekoff, Carol Speaser,Margaret Smith, Ari More,Paul Morgan and Mark Nowak, Dr. Ross Hewitt , Jim Easton, Michael James, Greg Beals, Tom Gleed, Cesar Cabrera, Eddie Martinez, Leah Zicari, Mary Hewitt, Helen Christianson and Gail King, the late Mike Mafeii, Diane Moyar and Bryan Whitley Grassi.
Member of the Assembly Crystal Peoples had voted yes on the bill in 2007. Her position in 2009 in unknown because she did not vote on the issue.
Peoples avoided voting on the same-sex marriage bill by walking out of the Assembly chamber.
A spokesman for Crystal Peoples´ office told Outcome, that Assembly member Peoples does not believe that the bill will pass in the Senate and decided not to vote on the bill in 2009 because of her doubt that it will not even be put for a vote in the Senate. The spokesperson would avoided responding to whether or not Peoples still supports civil rights for her gay and lesbian constituents.
Peoples represents parts of several neighborhoods in Buffalo that have significant gay and lesbian residents.
In 2007, when Peoples voted yes on the bill it was widely known that the Republican controled Senate would not be voting on the bill. This year the Senate Democrats hold the majority by a small margin. Several Senators including Buffalo's William Stachowski, have indicated that they would vote no if the bill was ever brought to a Senate vote.
Senate Majority leader Malcolm Smith has stated that he would bring the bill to a vote if he was assured that the bill would get the 32 votes needed to ensure passage.
The bills Senate Sponsor Tom Duane of New York City is confident that enough Republicans would support the bill to offset those Democrats who do not support the bill.
In a statement Duane said, "The eyes of the State, and indeed the nation, turn to the New York State Senate in the fight for marriage equality. Today's vote in the Assembly in favor of same-sex civil marriage once again proved that civil rights can not and will not be denied."
Duane added, "I am confident that this year my Senate will uphold this fundamental legal principle and vote for my right, our right, to be married this year."